It’s February, and February not only means Valentine’s Day, but it also means that the Florida strawberry season–which runs from December through April–is in full swing. We live about 50 miles from Plant City, “Winter Strawberry Capital of the World”, but this time of year you’ll find Florida strawberries in grocery stores nearly everywhere in the USA under different brand names. When I saw those irrestistibly fragrant and perfectly ripe beauties while I was grocery shopping, I bought a couple of pounds. I washed and hulled them so they’d be ready for breakfasts and snacking, but then I noticed that Joe hadn’t eaten any of the bananas I bought several days ago and they were rapidly reaching a state of squishy ripeness. So, with family arriving for a visit in a couple of days, I decided to make strawberry banana walnut bread as the perfect treat to have on hand. And did you know that February 23rd is National Banana Bread Day? Yep, it’s a thing.
But wait, you say you don’t have any ripe bananas? Well, one of my favorite baking experts is Stella Parks on Serious Eats (which just happens to be one of my favorite websites) and Stella has an amazing trick to ripen bananas in less than an hour. Stella is not only a fabulous pastry chef, but she’s also knowledgeable about much of the science behind baking. So go ahead, click on the link to see how Stella solves the problem of bananas that aren’t ripe enough for banana bread.
Back to the recipe. I used my KitchenAid stand mixer to make strawberry banana walnut bread, but it can easily be made with a hand mixer or even with a large bowl and a wooden spoon. Of course, the secret is to use the best ingredients–real butter, real buttermilk, pure cane sugar, really ripe bananas, pure vanilla, and juicy ripe strawberries!
To make it, I started with my Mom’s banana bread recipe which is legendary in our family. For years, I’ve added my own twist by using half brown sugar and half white sugar and also adding pure vanilla extract when I make it. This time, diced strawberries went into the batter, too.
Unless otherwise specified, it’s important to have your ingredients at room temperature when baking cakes, cookies, quick breads, and yeast breads. But, if you’re like me, you often decide to start baking last minute and the butter and eggs are cold. What to do, what to do…
Just dice the butter with a bench knife and set it on a plate over a bowl of hot tap water that you put your eggs into.
Start your oven preheating, prepare your loaf pan with non-stick spray, get out your other ingredients, measure the dry ones and whisk them together in a small bowl, and by that time your butter and eggs will be ready.
To start, cream the butter till it’s smooth, then add the sugar and beat about a minute. Add in the mashed banana and eggs and beat another minute or so until it’s all well combined. The mixture will look curdled.
Toss the diced strawberries with a tablespoon of flour and set aside.
Add the buttermilk, vanilla, and dry ingredients to the butter/banana mixture and mix on low just until all the flour is incorporated. Now, add the strawberries and the chopped nuts to the bowl and fold them into the batter by hand until they’re evenly distributed.
Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan and smooth the top, then slide it into the preheated oven. Set your timer and bake for about an hour…
…until it’s deep golden brown and looks dry where you see cracks in the top.
In the photos you’ll notice that I doubled the ingredients to make two loaves, but the recipe below is for a single loaf of strawberry banana walnut bread.
The aroma of strawberries and bananas and vanilla that will fill your home is nothing short of fabulous. In fact, you know how they say that if you’re selling your home, you should bake cookies before a showing? Well I say, bake strawberry banana walnut bread before an open house, and you’ll have a bidding war going on!
You’ll want to be sure that the bread is thoroughly baked by using a wooden skewer inserted in the middle of the loaf. Pull out the skewer and run it between your fingers; if it’s coated with any sticky batter at all, bake it for another 5 minutes, then check it again with a new skewer. Continue checking every 5 minutes until the skewer comes out clean.
Set the pan on a cooling rack for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the bread to firm up, then carefully turn it out of the pan and return to the cooling rack until the bread is cool.
Slice it, then sit down and enjoy a piece of strawberry banana walnut bread which is comfort food at it’s updated best…
…with or without a smear of cream cheese.
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Thanks, and bon appetit!
- 1/2 cup salted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated cane sugar (I like to use part light brown sugar)
- 1 cup very ripe bananas (2 medium, about 3/4 lb before peeling), peeled and mashed
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
- 6 oz ripe strawberries, diced
- 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Spray an 8" X 4" bread pan with non-stick spray.
- Stir together the flour, soda, & salt in a small bowl.
- In a large bowl, cream the butter, then gradually add the sugar and beat well.
- Add mashed bananas and the eggs and beat until thoroughly combined; mixture will look curdled.
- Toss the diced strawberries with 1 tablespoon of flour and set aside.
- Add the flour mixture, vanilla, and buttermilk, and blend well.
- Add the strawberries to the bowl, along with the walnuts, and gently fold them in until evenly distributed.
- Pour into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 55 to 75 minutes, until well browned and a wooden skewer inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean.
- Place pan on a cooling rack for 10 to 15 minutes, then remove the bread from the pan and return it to the cooling rack for at least an hour.
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